by Edwin Meese III and J. Kenneth Blackwell
Once upon a time, Americans got together on Election Day, went to the polls, and chose our leaders. Voting on the same day helped bind us together as self-governing citizens in a free republic. It even felt like a national holiday — Independence Day without the fireworks.
Except for those traveling or who are infirm and who can use absentee ballots, Election Day puts everyone in the same boat. As a civic exercise in equality, it is unparalleled. It has the added advantage of making vote fraud more difficult, since there is a very short window in which to commit it.
But over the past few decades, election laws have been relaxed in the name of convenience, with “reforms” such as early voting, same-day registration, Sunday and evening voting hours, no-excuse absentee voting and allowing out-of-precinct ballots. All of these increase the possibility of vote fraud.
At the same time, despite a clear mandate in the National Voter Registration Act (also known as the Motor Voter Law) to keep accurate registrations, the system has grown lax; election authorities have left millions on the voter rolls who should not be there.
A 2012 study by the Pew Center on the States found 1.8 million deceased people were registered to vote, and 24 million invalid or inaccurate registrations. An American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) review of voter rolls around the nation in 2013 found more than 200 counties with more voters registered than age-eligible, legal residents. The ACRU has won historic consent decrees in federal court requiring two Mississippi counties to clean up their voter rolls and is now litigating in Texas.
In Rhode Island, according to the Providence Journal, 20 of the Ocean State’s 39 municipalities “from the largest city to the smallest town, had more registered voters than it had citizens old enough to vote.” Rhode Island has about 770,000 adult citizens of whom 73.5%, or 566,000, are registered to vote, according to the U.S. Census. But 748,000 people are registered – a discrepancy of 182,000.
SOURCE: USA Today
Edwin Meese III, former U.S. attorney general, and J. Kenneth Blackwell, who served as mayor of Cincinnati and secretary of state of Ohio, both serve on the Policy Board of the American Civil Rights Union.